To Everything, There Is a Season–Facing Grief During the Holidays

Devotional Reading: To Everything, There Is a Season—Facing Grief During the Holidays

“To everything, there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven” –Ecclesiastes 3:1

To many, the holiday season is [or was] their favorite time of the year. In 2022, there have been a substantial number of deaths, from infants who ate food with pathogenic organisms to the many victims of the Russian-Ukrainian war. Loss of relationships from divorce and break ups with family and friends has escalated to an all-time high. Hundreds of video posts have flooded social media with heart-wrenching words of sorrow from the loss of marriages, relationships, and the death of children, husbands, wives, parents, and grandparents.

It would be remiss for us not to mention the increasing rate of suicide in 2022. “An estimated 703,000 people a year take their life around the world. “Creating hope through action” is the triennial theme for World Suicide Prevention Day from 2021 to 2023. This theme is a reminder that there is an alternative to suicide and aims to inspire confidence and light in all of us.

The loss of loved ones remains the most significant reason for loneliness leading to depression leading to suicidal ideations leading to suicide.

The Unexpected: We cannot plan for the things that happen in our lives spontaneously—illness, loss of jobs and homes, divorce, severing of friendships or family relationships, tragedies, and death. God created humanity to have lasting family ties and immortality. It was not part of God’s original plan for us to suffer loss. Yet, because of the fall of Adam and Eve, loss from family hostility and death are normal occurrences during our earthly lives.

“He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds [healing their pain and comforting their sorrow].” –Psalm 147:3, Amplified Bible

Whether expected or unexpected, loss always creates a crisis. What makes the difference is if we have a strong relationship with God and believe in His promises. Healing is a spiritual journey. We have the Holy Spirit, our Comforter, to provide hope and healing for the righteous believer. Yes, losing loved ones will always devastate our lives, and we will grieve, yet, we are not hopeless.

The beautiful hymn, It is Well With My Soul was written by Horatio Spafford in a time of extreme distress—the loss of his four children in a sinking ship.

We can never pray enough! “Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.” (Isaiah 65:24)

God does not crush us. He will not allow us to be overwhelmed and drown in a sea of hopelessness, even when the crisis of death invades our lives. Remember that nothing we face is unexpected from a spiritual perspective—God is aware of every trial and sorrow we face.

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth, you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart [have courage], because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Although the vicissitudes of life will remain until the Second Coming of Christ, praying the simple prayer of “God, I need Your help” allows the Holy Spirit to bring peace and comfort to our wounded hearts. When we humbly acknowledge our dependency on God, we have a Spiritual Team—God, the Father, Jesus, His Son, the Holy Spirit, and messenger angels who bring spiritual comfort to the depths of our hearts and souls.

Cry, Cry, Cry and Pray, Pray, Pray

“You number my wanderings; Put my tears into Your bottle; Are they not in Your book?”–Psalm 56:8

“When David wrote eloquently that God collected all of his tears in a bottle, it means that God cares about each individual tear we cry, and He remembers the pain that causes our tears.”

We were created with the ability to express grief and disappointment through tears. The tears we cry are words to God. He knows loss causes us to have fragile hearts.

Live day by day with the faith that you are given. Every day seeking Christ in private worship allows us to abide with Him in times of deep distress. Listen to the soothing promises of worship music. Developing the habit of studying the Scriptures and breathing several prayers throughout the day and evening fortifies us with spiritual strength that will sustain us in the harshest times. When we have an intentional relationship with Christ, we can expect Divine Intervention for every unexpected loss, even from the permanent earthly separation of loved ones.

God knows whom we need in our lives during our times of grieving. Jesus will perform miracles and send people to assist us during every crisis and afterward until we have the strength to move forward. We cannot rush through our healing journey. God knows our hearts and Jesus when on this earth experienced significant loss. Healing from loss occurs in micro steps. Remember that God has never expected us to forget the loss of loved ones.

Know that you are loved. Jesus experienced the death of Joseph, His earthly father. On the cross, in His humanness, Jesus felt as if God had abandoned Him. We know that God’s promise of “I will never leave you or forsake you” is binding even until we take our last breath.

We must Create Hope Through Action by actively witnessing the Love of Jesus to those who have no hope. Every day tell someone that Jesus loves you with everlasting love!

For those who have gained strength, hope, and a renewed purpose in their healing journey, this is the perfect time to use social media to post Scriptures of promises and make phone calls to provide a listening ear to those who have recently lost a loved one from death, divorce, or separation from family.

I recall a time when my faith and hope were at an all-time low. I was at Walmart and an older man passed by and said, “God loves you, everything will be alright.” Before I could say anything he disappeared. Perhaps when I get to heaven one of the angels will tell me that he gave me those words of comfort.

Our spiritual victories include the ability to heal by regaining hope, peace, and the strength to gradually move forward following a loss. Use an Audio Bible on YouTube to listen to The Lord’s Prayer [Matthew 6: 9-13] and Psalm 23 to comfort yourself or to read to someone who has experienced loss from death, divorce, or estrangement from family and friends. Spread the message, Yes, Jesus loves you and He died to give you a new life.

Scripture: “…strengthening the souls of the disciples and encouraging them to continue in the faith. “We must endure many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said.” (Acts 14:22)

Bible Study: Ecclesiastes chapter 3

Prayer: God, for many of us, we are grieving during this holiday season. We pray for Your power to comfort and strengthen us. We still praise and give you gratitude for our lives. Thank You for loving us. We ask this prayer in the Worthy name of Jesus. Amen.

Enjoy the Here and Now

SHOUT the Cry of Victory 30 Days of Prayer Day 25–Preparing for Eternal Life One Day at a Time

The Lord cares about our lives now; He wants the best for us now.

In reading the story of Creation following the completion of days 1-5, we are told, “and God saw that it was good.” But on day 6, “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” In Genesis 1:31, it is evident that God was abundantly happy and well-pleased with the final results of our earthly home. Only who would enjoy this more than wonderful place?

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. Genesis 1:26-27.

Although our earth is no longer a Garden of Eden, we are constantly reminded of God’s love of aesthetic beauty and tranquility. We can explore the endless boundaries of the geographical phenomenon of nature. The plant and animal kingdoms were created for humanity. Only the human body, which is fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God, places one in awe over the earthly home that the Master Designer lovingly gifted to us.

The kingdom Plantae includes organisms that range in size from tiny mosses to giant trees. The foliage, species of flowers, the grassy coverings, most trees, and the vast majority of plants belong to this category, shrubs, vines, flowers, fruits, vegetables, and legumes.

Does God want us to enjoy our lives? Yes, He does! We are made in His image with the ability to utilize five [highly complex] senses to appreciate our earthly home. The animal kingdom includes all species of mammals, reptiles, birds, insects, and more. And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. Genesis 1:29. We have the blueprint for the original diet, which provides a variety of healing nutrients.

So why aren’t we enjoying the here and now? We have become addicted to our home environment fixated on virtual technology. The hoarding of material possessions has nearly wrecked our sanity. We worry about money, careers, the opinion of others, success, etc. The statistics of Mental illness has far surpassed the COVID-19 pandemic–970 million people have a mental illness or substance abuse problems. We are taking a pill to function in every aspect of our lives, and Big PHARM is well-pleased.

You may not agree with my statements. However, I worked as a Behavioral Health nurse for many years. The Intake Assessment of 99% of patients with mental health disorders including morbid obesity revealed that they rarely enjoyed the benefits of nature or outdoor activities. Anxiety, depression, food and substance abuse addictions, and a variety of mental health challenges would improve with the adjunct therapy of time spent in nature.

It is time to challenge and change our current lifestyles. Get out of your indoor home and explore your outdoor home. God has provided everything that we need to enjoy our lives. We have God’s promises that He will supply all of our needs. “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?'” Matthew 6:31. Simplify your life by eliminating the toxic people, counterproductive places, and the overabundance of things [inanimate objects] that leave us empty, and always provoke the desire to have more.

Human Effort + Divine Intervention = A Victorious Outlook and Outcome

“We must live a twofold life—a life of thought and action, of silent prayer and earnest work. The strength received through communion with God, united with earnest effort in training the mind to thoughtfulness and caretaking, prepares one for daily duties and keeps the spirit in peace under all circumstances, however trying.”― Ellen G. White, The Ministry of Healing

Prayer: Please, help us, Lord, to have eyes to see and hearts to believe. Give us the strength to discard unhealthy habits and to live with a spirit of gratitude. We ask this prayer in the Worthy name of Jesus. Amen. © 2021 Sonya Johnson